To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions she has had with Ministerial colleagues about (a) reducing avian influenza farm checks and (b) transferring the responsibility of avian influenza farm checks from government agencies to industry; what her policy is on the future of animal and plant health checks; and if she will make a statement.
Under the Government’s Red Tape Challenge, Defra undertook to develop a more targeted approach to farm inspections. The aims are to reduce the burden of inspections on farmers with a good track record of compliance and to ensure that farm inspections are carried out as efficiently as possible, whilst maintaining animal health and welfare, food safety and environmental standards. Changes under consideration include combining more inspections, allowing more farmers to benefit from “earned recognition” and improving the planning and co-ordination of inspections by regulators.
Surveillance for avian influenza is carried out in accordance with European legislative requirements. A prompt veterinary investigation into reports of potential exotic notifiable disease is an important element of our disease response. In the current case of confirmed AI infection in Yorkshire, early confirmation of the disease following the initial report allowed quick and robust action to be taken.